When the Devils face the Blackhawks at United Center at 8:30 PM, they will have two players in the lineup they didn’t recently have. One will be star forward Taylor Hall. The recently turned 25-year old missed the last eight games due to left knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus.
In 14 games, Hall had five goals and seven assists. He should provide a big boost offensively. With Mike Cammalleri hot since his return up to seven goals and seven assists, the Devils finally have their two most talented offensive players back in the lineup.
They’ll still need more from Adam Henrique, who remains a mystery with four goals and six assists in 22 games. Kyle Palmieri also must pick it up. Both were 30 goalscorers last year for the first time in their careers. Neither has come close to fulfilling expectations. Palmieri will play his 21st game. He’s 3-6-9.
While Henrique and Palmieri try to straighten out, the Devs can take solace knowing they’re getting contributions from youngsters Nick Lappin and Miles Wood. Lappin has four goals and two helpers while Wood scored his first NHL goal in a 3-2 defeat at Winnipeg on Tuesday. He also had a penalty shot but was unable to beat Connor Hellebuyck. Lappin notched his fourth in that one.
Tonight marks the NHL debut of John Quenneville. Selected 30th overall in the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft, the 20-year old from Edmonton has adjusted well to pro hockey. He was leading the Albany Devils in scoring with 17 points (7-10-17) in 19 games. He gets the call with Beau Bennett placed on the injured reserve for a right leg laceration sustained on Nov. 28.
Making room for Hall’s return is Reid Boucher, who was placed on waivers. A 2011 fourth round pick, it looks like Boucher’s stay with the Devils could be over. After recording eight goals and 11 assists in 39 games last season, he had two assists in nine contests so far. Maybe the 23-year old needs a change of scenery. If he clears, he’ll be reassigned to Albany.
Yohann Auvitu is back in the lineup in place of Jon Merrill on defense. It’ll be interesting to see how Quenneville fares in his debut against the ultra talented Blackhawks.